Political News

Kavanaugh Is One of Only 114to Join the Exclusive Club of Justices. Here’s How He Fits In.

Posted October 9, 2018 8:29 a.m. EDT

Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, 114 justices have been appointed, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh. All but six were white men. Here is a look at the people who have served on the nation’s highest court.

It took 178 years before a person of color joined the court. Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American justice in 1967. His successor, Clarence Thomas, became the second, in 1991. Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice in 2009.

It took 192 years for a woman to be seated on the court. Sandra Day O’Connor, who joined the court in 1981, was the first female justice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became the second female justice in 1993, recently said, “There will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine.” The current court has three women.

The first Catholic justice, Roger B. Taney, joined the court in 1836 and the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, was seated in 1916. A majority of justices have been Protestant — until recently. The court had its first Catholic majority in 2006 and this will continue with the addition of Kavanaugh.

Justices’ legal educations have become more homogeneous. Every justice seated in the past 30 years received a law degree from Harvard, Columbia or Yale, Kavanaugh’s alma mater. Law schools were relatively uncommon until the late 19th century. A vast majority of the early justices did not go to law school but were mentored by experienced lawyers.

Sources: “The U.S. Supreme Court Justices Database,” compiled by Lee Epstein, Thomas G. Walker, Nancy Staudt, Scott Hendrickson and Jason Roberts. Additional data from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Congressional Research Service.